People: Alumni

This way to Broadway

By Anthony Stoeckert

Colby Dezelick ’16 lands a role in ‘Miss Saigon’

After graduating from Rider last year, Colby Dezelick ’16 worked at regional theaters in St. Louis and Connecticut. Soon after, he landed his biggest role yet and has been appearing in one of the most beloved musicals of all time, Miss Saigon, since previews opened on Broadway in March. 

Based on the opera Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon is a love story set during the Vietnam War. Though he had never seen a production before he auditioned for it, Dezelick was very familiar with a key song sung by the lead role of Chris, “Why, God, Why?” which he worked on at Rider with Mariann Cook, a professor of music theater voice.

“It’s one of those songs I started working on probably my sophomore or junior year, and it was a big challenge at first,” he says. “We worked on it all the time, and then I ended up singing it for a couple of auditions and now here I am covering the role on Broadway.”

Dezelick is in the ensemble and also serves as the understudy for the lead role of Chris. “It’s a little unreal,” he says. “It’s one of those things I’m sure anyone in the theater community dreams of.”

Dezelick, who grew up in northern Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., made it to Broadway thanks in part to his work at Rider. He found out about Rider’s theater program through a voice teacher and fell in love with the University when he visited.

“I met the faculty, who were great and very personable and very excited about the prospects of the theater program,” he says. “I met the students and they were great. I had a fantastic time there. I spent four years loving all of the classes and the faculty and making some great friends. And it definitely prepared me for an actual career in the real world.”

At Rider, he performed in the acclaimed shows the theater department stages. He appeared in musicals such as All Shook Up and Spring Awakening.

“Certainly the type of material that we got to work on in college was amazing,” he says. “There were always one or two shows a year that were incredibly ambitious for a college, so it’s great for a student to even be able to work on that kind of material.”

He even presented three workshop performances of his own musical, Between the Lines, about a young artist seeking to find her way in the world. He started writing it in his freshman year, then presented performances of it on campus in his sophomore, junior and senior years.

As if acting, singing, dancing and writing a musical isn’t enough, Dezelick is also a musician. “I was always interested in music,” he says. “That was another main reason I really wanted to go to Rider, because there I was able to explore my parallel passion for music that coincided with musical theater.”

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